Christians, ACLU join forces in favor of 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus'

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gb93433, Mar 27, 2007.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    http://www.abpnews.com/www/1882.article

    Christians, ACLU join forces in favor of 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus'

    By Robert Marus
    Published: March 20, 2007

    WASHINGTON (ABP) -- Few events in American society could bring together the American Civil Liberties Union and Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice, especially to defend a banner mentioning drug use. But a case argued before the Supreme Court March 19 did just that -- they united in opposition to President Bush's administration, Kenneth Starr and a public school board.

    The unlikely bedfellows are arrayed against opponents in what could become the most significant student free-speech case in 30 years.

    The high court heard oral arguments in Morse v. Frederick (No. 06-278), a case stemming from a 2002 prank by an 18-year-old senior at Juneau-Douglas High School in Juneau, Alaska. During a parade celebrating the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, Joseph Frederick and his friends held a 14-foot-long banner on a public sidewalk across the street from the school. Its message read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." A bong is a water pipe sometimes used to smoke marijuana.

    Frederick said he had seen the phrase elsewhere and chose it simply as an absurdist, nonsensical way to celebrate his free speech -- and attract attention from the many news cameras covering the event.

    Upon seeing the banner, which she took as an endorsement of drug use, school principal Deborah Morse walked over to Frederick and ordered him to take it down. When he refused, she tore the sign down herself.

    Frederick sued Morse and the Juneau School Board, and he won in lower federal courts. The losing parties appealed the case to the Supreme Court, and the Bush administration joined their side.

    However, the breadth of the arguments from the school board and the government alarmed civil libertarians and conservative Christian groups, several of which filed friend-of-the-court briefs on Frederick's behalf. Besides the ACLJ, the groups included the Alliance Defense Fund and the Christian Legal Society.

    Attorneys for both the school board and the government argued that school officials could suppress any student message "inconsistent with the school's basic educational mission." Anti-drug groups filed friend-of-the-court briefs in favor of that view.

    But agreeing with such a view would compel the court to make an exception to its landmark 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines School District ruling. In that decision, the majority ruled the school could not prevent students from wearing black armbands to class to protest the Vietnam War. The court's majority said, famously: "it can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."

    In the years since Tinker, the court has made narrow exceptions to the rule in cases where students engaged in disruptive or vulgar speech or where the school could be seen as directly endorsing the speech through its support of a student publication like a campus newspaper.

    But the Juneau School Board's argument, echoed by the government, would allow suppression of student speech beyond previous cases. School officials' right to censor speech could extend to any student speech that, though neither disruptive nor subsidized by the school, proved to be at odds with school-district policies.

    The Christian groups who side with Frederick warn that such a broad ruling could have unintended consequences. The Texas-based Liberty Legal Institute told justices it is "gravely concerned that the religious freedom of students in public schools will be damaged" should they accept the school's and government's argument.

    Many of the briefs asked whether a student who expressed an unpopular religious-based viewpoint -- like opposition to homosexuality -- in a school-related setting could be disciplined for speaking against district policies that include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination clauses.

    The ACLJ brief said school administrators "face a constant temptation to impose a suffocating blanket of political correctness upon the educational atmosphere."

    During March 19 arguments, Morse's advocates avoided such a broad argument. Starr, arguing on behalf of the school board, and Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler, who argued for the government, focused on a narrow exception for student speech that appears to endorse drug policy.

    "Let me be very specific: This case is ultimately about drugs and other illegal substances," Starr said in response to a question from Justice Anthony Kennedy.

    But Justice Samuel Alito said the contention that schools may suppress speech at odds with their mission is "a very disturbing argument" because schools "can define their educational mission so broadly that they can suppress all sorts of political speech and speech expressing fundamental values of the students."

    Kneedler replied, "That's why I think … it would make a lot of sense for the court to articulate a rule that had to do with encouraging illegal conduct."

    But other justices took up part of the school district's argument -- that upholding the lower court's rulings would require school districts to tolerate a much broader range of behavior than previously required.

    Propose that "the school has a program, an anti-drug program that shows movies, it brings in policemen and social workers to preach against drug use," hypothesized Justice Antonin Scalia, to Doug Mertz, Frederick's attorney. "You're saying that [the school] has to let students contradict this message it's trying to teach -- to walk around, you know, with a button that says, 'Smoke Pot: It's Fun!'"
     
  2. jshurley04

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    Wow!

    I cannot believe that I too am on the side of the ACLU on this one. I cannot believe that Starr thinks this is so narrow. Time to get more active in what is going on.
     
  3. Watchman

    Watchman
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    A.C.L.J. and Morse v. Frederick

    When I read this I was curious why the American Center for Law and Justice would take this student's side here, so I visited their web sight and found this: ACLJ • American Center for Law & Justice
    They said (in part):
    "The high court should uphold the long tradition of protecting the free speech rights of students – even when it’s a message most would disagree with. While we strongly disagree with the student’s message in this case, the fact is that unless student speech is protected, a message considered appropriate today could be deemed offensive tomorrow. We want to ensure that students who hold pro-life and pro-family positions will continue to be able to present those messages without censorship. That is why the Supreme Court must reject the school board’s argument in this case."

    "School districts must not be entrusted with the authority to arbitrarily determine what student speech is offensive and off limits. In the future, that could put all student speech at risk – including speech that advocates Christian beliefs on any issue – including abortion or marriage."

    I find that I will have to take the school board's side on this one; "...arbitrarily determine what student speech is offensive and off limits."
    No, but what we are talking about here is firstly, using the Lord's name in a vain way (a clear violation of God's law) and advocatng what is illegal (a violation of man's law). No one has, or should have, a right to say whatever one wants to say; reasonable controls, especially in a school setting, is appropriate. When it does come to a free speech issue regarding freedom of religion, then let's take up that issue when it comes up. Freedom of religion is constitutional, freedom to advocate illegal activity is not.

    I am well aware that many of the brethren here may disagree with my view, and I invite comments to see what you have to say.
     
    #3 Watchman, Mar 28, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2007
  4. James_Newman

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    Freedom to advocate illegal activity is a fundamental part of freedom of speech. If I believe that a law is unjust, I cannot speak against it without advocating 'illegal activity'.
     
  5. Watchman

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    Illicit drug laws unjust? Using the Lord's name that way: will He be pleased?
     
  6. James_Newman

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    I didn't say I thought drug laws were unjust, even though I do. And I didn't advocate taking the Lord's name in vain. But I do advocate the equal protection of the constitution for everyone. Freedom benefits everyone, not just the baptists. Take freedom from one group, you end up taking it from everyone.
     
  7. jshurley04

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    We have to separate ourselves sometimes for our own good. We have to set aside our Baptistness and be wholey Americans on this issue. If not, then the world will sieze the opportunity to shout down and shut up our Baptistness. If we condone the ability to silence free speach because it is offensive or it promotes something that we find distastful then we will soon loose the ability to speak on other matters such as man's sinful state and the only way to heaven is through the Cross of Christ.
    I don't like it, but I have to support it. Besides, schools have become overly aggressive in almost everything related to student discipline.
     
  8. Watchman

    Watchman
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    It looks like I am the alone in my opinion. That is okay. As far as school discipline, I feel that is one reason for the sad state of schools today-lack of discipline. I do not feel that necessary controls on this type of speech, which advocates something illegal, will lead to stifling Chistian witness.
     
  9. gb93433

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    It starts at home. Lack of discipline is all over. When I pastored I had to speak with some deacons about disciplining their children instead of allowing them to weak around during the service and make noise.
     
  10. jshurley04

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    Well, then I hope that you are not treated badly when no one comes to your defense when you are jailed for preaching or teaching or witnessing about our Lord and Savior. This is not a what if, this is a when will situation. Don't believe me, look at our European friends and the restrictive speach laws that they have. Look at history and see what happened in Germany. Mankind, as a whole, is completely ignorant to the point of stupidity in it ability to not allow history to repeat itself.
     
  11. robycop3

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    Brethren, I'm as much-opposed to misuse of the Lord's name as anyone here...but I'm also just-as-opposed to any restriction to freedom of speech or expression. If we suppress an unpopular speech or expression now, who's to say OUR viewpoints couldn't be suppressed if the wrong people come to power?
     
  12. Watchman

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    I respect everyones veiws here, I know where you are coming from. Again, I do not feel that one will lead to the other: that is, a ruling in favor of the school board will lead to restrictions on our religious liberties. If the young man had been holding up a banner promoting Islam let's say-that would be different and I would agree with everyone here, even though I regard Islam as a false religion.
    If the court does rule in favor of the young man it may well be because it did not happen on school property, he was standing on public property. Now, I admit, that is an issue, and a difficult one from my standpoint. If they rule that he did have rights being on public property, but still allow for reasonable controls on school property, then I would have to agree to that. I'll admit, this is a difficult case.
     
  13. jshurley04

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    1930's Germany

    It does not matter if you believe it or not, it has already happened and will happen again if good men do not stand up for what is right. Hitler came to power and swept away the Jews and in the beginning that was ok, until he began to sweep away all the other groups that he did not like or care for or that might oppose him. That is not a world that I as an American citizen wish to participate in.
     
  14. His Blood Spoke My Name

    His Blood Spoke My Name
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    The Word of God says

    and
    It doesn't matter what the ACLJ, the ACLU, the Senate, or the President of the United States says. God's Word says 'Thou shalt not..." His Word means exactly that..

     
  15. jshurley04

    jshurley04
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    Peoples Republic of America

    You are probably one of those that want to legislate religious morality. I tell you what, why don't you go back over to the Middle East and live under a legislated religious morality. You know what you will find, you will find what America will be if we allow court cases like this to loose and our freedom to worship or not worship curtailed. Legislated religious morality never has and never will work in a secular society.

    GET REAL
     
  16. His Blood Spoke My Name

    His Blood Spoke My Name
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    God's Word says we ought to obey Him instead of man. Religious freedom should not include the freedom to blaspheme the Son of God as these students clearly did.

    Any person who says the students have the right to say whatever they want about my Lord and Savior must not believe that God's Word says 'Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain'. Either that, or they just don't care what God's Word says.
     
  17. Benjamin

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    Since the boys seemed to be admitting to drug use maybe they should have been required to be tested before being allowed back on campus!
     
  18. menageriekeeper

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    No, drug testing would be an invasion of their right to privacy. Random drug testing (at least in my state) is only done on students participating in school sponsered sports. Even then, the students and their parents are aware before joining the "team" that this is a possibility and must give direct approval of it. I've signed several of the forms myself. If I didn't want my child's privacy invaded in this manner, then I wouldn't sign. The result of not signing is privacy without the ability to play school sponsered sport.

    This young man shouldn't have been using the language he was using, as In His Blood has said. The question isn't whether or not he should have used it, but whether or not a school official had the authority to tear down his sign, off school property, at an event that school was let out for, but yet an event that it was the students responsibility to show up at or not.

    In my opinion, this is no different from my child showing up at her homecoming parade (something for which school is let out, but students do not have to attend) with a sign supporting the opposing team and having a school representative tear it up. (only a hypothetical example, btw)

    The main question here is not the inappropriate use of language, but who has the authority to tell this kid that it is inappropriate and force him to stop. We in America have traditionally left decisions of this type to the parent, for better or worse.

    Personally, it is NOT up to the school system to tell my child what sort of language is acceptable off of school grounds and may only correct them if the language they are using on school grounds is disruptive to the educational process. I can't see where this kids sign was disruptive to the educational process. Stupid and uncalled for perhaps, but that is what parents are for.
     
  19. His Blood Spoke My Name

    His Blood Spoke My Name
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    Anyone who was a Christian should have taken the initiative and tore up that sign.

    Since the event happened off school grounds, at a school event, I feel the principle had a right to tear up that sign. Those who knew those boys went to that school could have gotten a bad picture of the school itself.

    We, as Christians, represent Christ and are supposed to represent Christ wherever we go.

    These boys, if they were amongst the other students and teachers at this school function were reflecting the school... whether the school was closed that day or not.

    If suspension had not been given to these students, something else should have been done.

    Discipline from home would have probably been the best answer. Is the family a bunch of pot-heads? Do they discipline their children when it is necessary? This would explain the student's actions.

    Many parents are afraid of their children these days because of laws that state a child cannot be spanked or that parent faces a jail term. Many children hold that ace card up their sleeve as leverage to disobey and rebel.

    God's Word says
    Discipline needs to be back in the home, in the hands of the parents... else situations like the one in the OP will only get worse.
     
  20. rbell

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    Then the headline would have read,

    "Group of students beat up person who tore up their sign"
     

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